Europa Nostra: 2022 Session of the World Heritage Committee cannot be chaired by Russia and cannot take place in Kazan

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On 14 March 2022, Europa Nostra conveyed an urgent appeal to all 21 members of the World Heritage Committee concerning the chairmanship and location of the 45th session of the World Heritage Committee.

2022 marks the 50th anniversary of the World Heritage Convention and all heritage stakeholders were looking forward to celebrating this Golden Jubilee by joining the World Heritage Committee session in the World Heritage City of Kazan upon invitation and under the chairmanship of the Russian Federation.

Instead, given the brutal invasion by Russia’s army of Ukraine, an independent and sovereign country in Europe, with the loss of numerous human lives, including civilians and children, the massive destruction of historic cities and the serious damage to invaluable cultural and natural heritage in this country, due to deliberate attacks by Russia’s army which violate the provisions both of the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, and of the 1972 UNESCO World Heritage Convention, Europa Nostra strongly believes that the Russian Federation must withdraw as Chair of this year’s World Heritage Committee.

Therefore, in the letter addressed to all Ambassadors and Permanent Delegates of the 21 countries currently representing the States Parties to the Convention in the World Heritage Committee, Europa Nostra’s Executive President, Prof. Dr. Hermann Parzinger, urged them to “take, as soon as possible, the only right decision to ask one of its Vice Chairs to take over the chairmanship of this year’s session of the World Heritage Committee and to relocate this session to Paris, at the headquarters of UNESCO, or any other suitable alternative location”.

Copies of this letter were addressed to the Director General of UNESCO, Mrs Audrey Azoulay, and presented to Mr Lazare Eloundou-Assomo, Director of the World Heritage Centre, by the Europa Nostra’s Secretary General, Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović, and Board member Laurent Lévi-Strauss, during their meeting at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris on 14 March.

This initiative follows the publication on 25 February of the public statement Europa Nostra stands in solidarity with Ukraine, in which Europa Nostra strongly condemns the brutal invasion by Russia’s army of Ukraine and expresses its readiness “to work actively with our many international and European partners as well as with our members and other heritage stakeholders in the region and beyond to provide any necessary assistance to our fellow Europeans in Ukraine”.

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